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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2023

Family Affair: 257th Army Band continues legacy of music and connection

By Master Sgt. Arthur M. Wright D.C. National Guard

For the musically inclined fond memories include a holiday recital. The culmination of endless hours of practicing, the anticipation performing for a crowd, nervous energy, and the right outfit. And for Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wood, 257th Army Band commander, it’s not just a performance about him, it’s a family affair.

“My grandfather, who served in the Air Force, was a song director in church and my uncle is a 35-year music educator,” CW3 Wood said. “I’m proud to carry on both a musical legacy and their legacy of service.”

And amid the backdrop of festive candles and attendees wearing holiday garb you’ll find CW3 Wood’s grandmother who traveled from Florida, his uncle and aunt who came from Virginia, and his eldest son, Corgan Wood, who’s performing with his father’s band.

“He’s working with us as part of a special school project. Corgan’s interested in pursuing a career as a military musician himself.” CW3 Wood said.

“Our family connects through music. Everybody taps into music in some way or another, whether you perform or sing – there’s a unifying appreciation for it,” added David Hartley, CW3 Wood’s uncle. “I encourage people to use music to build connection and rapport.”

Sentiments in motion throughout the halls of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Catholic Church in southeast D.C., Dec. 11. Hartley’s nephew, CW3 Wood served as conductor and host of the 257th Army Band’s “The Sounds of the Season” holiday concert. The interactive concert features traditional songs, modern medleys, a historical reference to the Christmas Eve truce between American and German Soldiers in 1944, and a rendition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas narrated by Brig. Gen. Leland Blanchard, commander, D.C. National Guard Land Component.

“It’s a great opportunity for the public to see the U.S. Army as human beings. So, few of our population serves in uniform – all they see is the news or fictional versions of people in uniform,” CW3 Wood said. “There’s no better way for the military to connect with the community. Music is universal.”

Members of the 257th Army Band, aptly referred to as “The Band of the Nation’s Capital,” are top-level skilled musicians and ambassadors. Annually there’s concert missions throughout the National Capital Region, parades, public requests, and engagements.

“There are amazing things that each Soldier brings not only as musicians, but as an individual. That’s what our audiences have come to appreciate us for,” CW3 Wood said.

Giving the gift of music and connection, regardless of the time of year.

“We’re contributing to our communities,” CW3 Wood said.

He also stresses a commitment aligning public engagements with recruitment. Studies show military recruitment shortfalls are tied to education and access. CW3 Wood wants to align more young adults with Army career paths. In the 257th Army Band alone there’s career opportunities for musicians who play bass, keyboard, and guitar.

“We are continuously looking for talented, service-minded folks,” he said.

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